To sell my books, I often attend arts and crafts shows. There are basically two types; some are local with ‘juried’ artisans. My experience is that these vendors are a pretty terrific group.
Then you have the big shows, the ones with vendors on regional — or even national — circuits. Think state fairs or larger. If not big business, it’s certainly biggish business. At these shows, it’s easier to get trampled to death in the craft hall than the horse barn.
My first experience with a show this size was a three-day marathon. I watched, mouth agape, as vendors arrived with monster RVs like NASCAR teams or rock bands, names emblazoned along the sides of their rigs. Fifth wheels, custom vans, motor homes. They took over the spaces at the nearest state park.
Some are pros. But many are retired couples, maybe one making metal sea creatures and the other bracelets from old spoons. They travel between shows during the week, seeing the sights, living comfortably in their RVs. Then they set up a display Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from May through December.
These are often well-heeled seniors who’ve found a way to cover the cost of travel while they tour the country. They are the modern day extension of the carnies of yesteryear.
I felt like a rube at my first show of this size. Sis and I arrived in a small SUV with Rubbermaid tubs full of books. There we were with a booth approximately as sophisticated as Lucy’s nickel psychological advice stand.
As we set up, I was amazed at vendors fighting for their “rights” like hummingbirds at a feeder. Nobody gave one single inch to the vendor next to them. I was asked to take sides against Cat Lady by Metal Man and complain about the scented candles conflicting with the soap aromas.
If I had known what I was doing, I might have whined about my booth space. For unknown reasons, the show organizers placed us between Mr. Fudge on one side and Cupcake Couple on the other.
Three days captured between delectables; what a horror show, right? As it turned out, it was. They bickered over our heads throughout the event.
“If you give so many free samples nobody will buy anything!”
“At least I’m not too ashamed of my products to offer samples.”
You get the idea. After the first day of that, even fudge stopped sounding yummy.
As a writer I was fascinated by this new-to-me lifestyle of seniors on the road. This was primary research, by golly, at its rawest. So, of course, I wrote a story about a murder at a craft show. I’ll be ready for the circuit next year!
Linda B. Myers is a founding member of Olympic Peninsula Authors and author of “Three Bears,” the newest in her Bear Jacobs mystery series, available on Amazon.com or at local retailers. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.